We Are All Rubberneckers Staring at This Trainwreck of a Speaker's Race

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

As the sun rises over the Capitol building in Washington D.C., Republican congressmen are debating the path forward for the majority party. There is no Speaker, there is no unity, and there is a growing sense that Democrats will have to have some hand in establishing order in the House.


From the start, it has been clear that going into a Motion to Vacate without having a plan was a mistake, and those behind it were focused far too much on the short-term goal without bothering to consider long-term ramifications. As a result, we are now two weeks into a leadership crisis, and after multiple factions have derailed multiple candidates, it's starting to look like we may never get a decent resolution.

While all this is going on, the most volatile part of the world is at war, the conflict in Ukraine is still going, and our federal government is asleep at the wheel. We have terrorist sympathizers inciting a riot on the House lawn and an incursion into the Capitol building. The fact that our government is too paralyzed to do anything about it is a shame, and part of the blame goes to the chaos in the House.

But, we must also be honest about something here: The coverage that the Beltway Media is giving to the Speaker's race over the issues that really matter isn't really that surprising, but it is annoying.

Both the Playbook at POLITICO and the Punchbowl News AM newsletter focus extensively on the soap opera that is the Republican conference. They tie tangential issues - like Israel and Ukraine funding - to the fight, but it's clear from the writing in both newsletters that the authors' focal points center around the "Republicans In Disarray" narrative. Which is the news of the day, and it is central to the plot.


However, the narrative omits a key detail: The work of the House grinding to a halt isn't on Republicans alone. Matt Gaetz had help from seven other Republicans and the entire present Democratic conference. As much as the press has a narrative on the Republicans being in chaos, the House's stagnation couldn't have happened without Democrats contributing to it.


Sure, the world is on fire. Hamas’ barbaric attack on Israel and Israel’s response has left the Middle East reeling, Ukraine is still struggling to hold the line against Russia, and here at home, Uncle Sam runs out of money in less than a month. But the truth is that most Republicans don’t yet feel pressured enough to set aside their own personal ambitions to get back to governing.

Not once is there any admission that the reason the House stopped governing in the first place is because Democrats joined in with the people they now accuse of refusing to do their jobs. They got rid of Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and because the House can't do anything without a Speaker, the Democrats all but ensured the House wouldn't be at work for weeks on end.

Same thing from Punchbowl, regarding the idea to elevate Patrick McHenry:


Conservatives are going to freak out, however. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) tweeted twice about this Wednesday night, saying the move is unconstitutional, could cause political fallout and will empower Democrats.

Roy’s complaint isn’t accurate, at least in some ways. There’s nothing unconstitutional or improper about electing a speaker pro tem, as we pointed out in our AM edition Wednesday.

The Texas Republican is right, however, in that this could make it easier for the House to pass Ukraine aid or an emergency supplemental package that isn’t offset. The stranglehold that conservative hardliners have over the chamber would be broken.

Yet these hardliners have lost a lot of sway inside the conference after this disaster.

This disaster is, yet again, just as much the Democrats' fault as it is the Republicans' fault. Without Democratic votes, McCarthy would still be Speaker, the Republican conference would be fighting over his legislation and government funding proposals, and Democrats could side with the Republican leadership over funding Ukraine and Israel to their hearts' content.

But, instead, they chose to back a reckless play to remove McCarthy from power. Yes, this couldn't have started without Republicans like Gaetz, but the fact that the Beltway Media and all the insiders are bemoaning the GOP not getting anything done while ignoring the significant hand Democrats had in it? That is being ignored.


I hope that there is a solution to the issue very soon. We still have to worry about Israel, appropriations, and all the other stuff that comes with actually governing. But, instead, we love good gossip and we're getting our gossip from unreliable narrators in the press. It all has to change, and the sooner it does, the better it will be for all of us.


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